Financial Planning for 401(k) Plans
Journal of Retirement Planning (10/00) Vol. 3, No. 5 p.32; Phillips, Lawrence C.; Robinson, Thomas R.

Accounting strategists Lawrence C. Phillips and Thomas R. Robinson examine the implications involved in investing in 401(k) plans and the role of the financial advisor. Financial advisors are expected to brief their client about their options, such as how much to contribute to his/her 401(k), how to invest these funds, and how and when to take distributions. One of the first decisions financial planners need to determine with their clients is how much should he/she contribute to his or her 401(k). Together, client and planner should figure out whether the client should make a minimum contribution, maximum contribution, or contribute the amount that the employer intends to match. The financial planner must then determine the following: how much has been accumulated in other plans; the desired level of income during retirement; how much discretionary income is available for contributions; and when the participant plans to use the funds. Regarding distributions, the client must decide several things, including at what date he/she should begin the distributions; what form of distribution he/she should take; and who he/she should choose as designated beneficiary for estate tax purposes. Additionally, clients should consider the availability of other funds, preferably nontax-deferred accounts. Once the client decides on the day they wish to retire, they must then select the form of distribution. Should the plan participant settle on an annuity option, then he/she can choose a single life annuity, joint life annuity, or period certain.

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